If you brush your teeth regularly for two minutes, you are doing good.
If you floss and rinse your mouth with mouthwash, another round of applause for you.
And if you visit your dentist twice a year, double thumbs ups.
But do not give yourself a pat on the back just yet.
Although you are doing better than one in 10 people who admit they forget to brush regularly and 42 percent of adults who only brush their teeth for basic oral care, you are still missing a crucial step that you must include in your oral hygiene routine – cleaning your tongue.
Why Should I Clean My Tongue?
Just as much as brushing your teeth is necessary, brushing your tongue will help you achieve the best oral health possible as the majority of the bacteria in your mouth are on your tongue, existing and breeding on its surface.
Through brushing, you eliminate the bacteria clinging to your teeth, but if you missed out on cleaning your tongue, bacteria on it will transfer to your teeth over a few hours.
How Should I Clean My Tongue?
There are techniques that you can use to remove the bacteria and food particles that harbor in your tongue. You can either use a regular toothbrush by using its bristles, a specialized toothbrush with a built-in tongue cleaner, a teaspoon, or a tongue scraper.
Brushing Your Tongue
You can brush your tongue using the bristles of your toothbrush. After brushing your teeth, use a dab of toothpaste and gently brush the top of your tongue. Start from the back of the tongue, working forward toward the mouth’s opening. Then, rinse with water.
It is important that you brush away from your mouth to refrain from brushing gunk back into the mouth. Make sure to use a soft toothbrush, and apply gentle pressure not to hurt your tongue.
Cleaning with a Tongue Scraper
You can also choose a tongue scraper which is made of soft, flexible plastic. It gently peels off the thin mucus-based layer of debris from the tongue.
After each use, rinse the scraper with warm water to clean it. Make sure that the right pressure is applied when using the scraper.
Similarly with brushing your tongue, begin at the back of the tongue, moving towards the opening of the mouth.
Clean Your Tongue with a Teaspoon
If a tongue scraper is unavailable, and you do not want to use your toothbrush, you can turn to your kitchen for a tongue cleaner.
You can use a teaspoon for cleaning your tongue. Moisten the spoon and turn it upside down. And like with toothbrush and tongue scraper, start from the back, going towards the mouth’s opening, then rinse.
There are contradicting opinions on the effectivity of toothbrushes in tongue cleaning over using a tongue scraper.
According to research, toothbrushes clean the tongue better because of the bristles that have a greater ability to reach the grooves and furrows of the tongue.
But other research believes otherwise, pointing out that brushing your tongue may be insufficient since toothbrushes were created for cleaning the hard enamel of the teeth, and not for soft muscles like the tongue.
Whatever method you use, always be gentle in scraping your tongue to avoid hurting it.
After cleaning your tongue, do not forget to rinse to remove the residue that may have been left.
Aside from brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue, we at Hawaii Family Dental suggest visiting a dentist at least twice a year for better oral health. A dental visit will help you detect early signs of dental problems and get you immediate treatment. Moreover, a dental visit often includes a teeth cleaning which is necessary in ensuring that no plaque or tartar has built up on your teeth.
Date Published: July 10, 2017
Last Updated: February 16, 2019
Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.